“Tipped to”

A recent New York Times article about the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards noted that the film Joker “had been tipped to win big at the awards.”

I’ve been in Australia for the past month or so, and that phrase “tipped to” is quite common here. Merriam-Webster online provides a definition: “chiefly British: to mention as a likely candidate, prospective winner, or profitable investment.”

The results for a Google News search for a phrase are all British, Irish, or Australian, for example this Daily Mail Headline: ‘Meet your new Bachelor! Jett Kenny is tipped to be this year’s suitor.”

It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the term, since the OED doesn’t have an entry for it. It is, however, used in a citation for another word (“super,” meaning “superannuation,” which is what Americans refer to as 401 (k) plan). It’s from the Sydney Bulletin in 1973: “In some cases where the executive’s own company contributes substantial sums to his super scheme … the tax commissioner is tipped to take a far more sceptical view.”

Google Books has only use prior to that. It’s from the 1964 proceedings of the Kenya National Assembly.

Screen Shot 2020-02-04 at 1.57.55 PM

As for American use, there isn’t much. The only other recent use in the Times was in the article about last year’s BAFTA awards, which noted that The Favourite “had been tipped to win big.”

But it turns out that both articles were written by Times correspondent Alex Marshall, who is British. And so I dub “tipped to” a faux NOOB. But it is very much a British/Australianism, so shouldn’t it have an OED entry?


20 thoughts on ““Tipped to”

  1. Does not the American meaning of the word ”tip” include proffering useful information as well as giving a gratuity.

    There is an old joke in Australia about what to say when someone expects a gratuity. “Here’s a tip? Be kind to your mother, and you will have a good life.”

  2. Is it one of those expressions that is commonly used by news writers, but less commonly used in ordinary language?

  3. I presume horse racing is involved somewhere in the origin, where a tip is a suggestion as to a likely winner in a race and a tipster is someone who gives tip.

      1. Tipping the scales refers to a known measurement rather than a possibility or likelihood.

      2. Tipping the scales also refers to altering the probability of something, in an underhanded way. My remark is based, admittedly, on a single comment in a discussion of the phrase at the StackExchange website, where someone said:

        “A “Tip” in this context is a phrase borrowed from horse racing and is commonly understood in British and Australian English. It refers to information that may “tip the scales in your favour” or be of benefit to you.” https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/288558/what-does-tipped-mean-in-this-sentence

      3. I suppose that I was thinking specifically of boxing reports, eg “he tipped the scales at 220 pounds”. The sense of unfairly altering the balance in your favour is commonly associated with millers, as in The Canterbury Tales.
        The most common use of the word is probably in the phrase “tip off”, as in “the police received a tip off as to the identity of the murderer”.

  4. It is easy to pre-date those mentions of “tipped to”.
    Searching Australian newspapers via the “Trove” website, the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 5th September 1881 has that a writer “…tipped Wheatcar to win, which was not done by any other sporting writer in the colony.” This is the earliest I found without inverted commas. There are articles in other papers from 1880 which use “tipped” in inverted commas. An example is in The Australasian of 20th November 1880, “Nearly every horse that ran was “tipped” to us as having a good chance”. Or, from the Newcastle Morning Herald an Miner’s Advocate of 16th October 1880, “When I “tipped” him to beat Watson, I believed him to be an exceptionally fast sprinter” – appears in a report of an athletics meet.

  5. I think that the culture of gambling on horse racing is much more prevalent in the UK, where we have for decades had legal bookies’ shops on every urban high street and Australia, where one can legally back a horse in a pub, than in the US. Within this and at racecourses there have always been tipsters who, for a small consideration, would give the punter a hot tip for a dead cert on a race. Famous tipster John McCririck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVUirjjOzhY
    The phrase is also widely used in the UK for a piece of friendly, free advice: “Let me give you a tip – never start smoking, young man.”.

    1. Tipsters are prevalent in the betting industry, with varying degrees of accuracy. Bookmakers also employ tipsters to lead punters on with small wins before luring them into a big bet which inevitably proves to be a loser; it is an illegal practice but is not unknown in online gambling.

      1. I had memories of seeing tipsters’ columns in the sports sections of newspapers but as I don’t follow racing I wasn’t sure if they still do that.

        I just turned to the sports section of today’s Guardian (a “quality” paper, not a tabloid) and there is Greg Wood’s tips. Sabbathical in the 1:25 at Segefield is the first. I don’t know how much racing is going on today but they list three race courses and what looks like the whole card at each of them, one tip per race.

      2. For the record, Sabbathical didn’t win, it came fourth. Bertie Blake run. So much for that tip.

    2. I remember an American I know who was visiting the UK expressing surprise to see betting shops in the high street. He was also taken aback when I called them bookies, as he reckoned bookmakers has a negative connotation in the US.

    3. Tip as advice also used in U.S., as in lyric to Bob Dylan’s “I Threw It All Away”:
      No matter what you think about it [love]

      You just won’t be able to do without it

      Take a tip from one who’s tried

  6. Though easily now backdated via Trove, this sense is recorded in the Australian National Dictionary (2nd ed. 2016). The given etymology is a transferred sense of “tip” meaning “to give a piece of private information about”, and they define it neatly as “to guess”. Prominent AND cites include C.J. Dennis in 1918 and Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in 1955.

  7. I suspect this phrase is primarily used by journalists, partly due to being short, but mainly because it can be used to make speculation or gossip sound a bit more authoritative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s